Thursday, November 7, 2013

Should Religious Hucksters (like Dave Pack) Get A Free Ride?

All About Armstrongism has an article up about religious hucksters who abuse members and take money to build huge monuments to themselves without any consequence.  Commentary: Should Religious Hucksters Get A Free Ride?

We have all seen in Armstrongism the hucksters who tell their members the end is here and to send in all their money for a final push and then the hucksters turn around and build huge monuments to themselves like Flurry and Pack are doing.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in tithe and offering money are going down the tubes to build huge campuses, auditoriums, and gardens while the sheep are struggling to survive.  Clarion Calls and "final push" letters constantly go out to con members to send in more and more money.

Then these same hucksters turn around and destroy members lives with absurd policies and regulations that destroy marriages, break up families, ruin friendships and destroy businesses.

Those that suffer at the hands of religious entrepreneurs suffer greatly. There are accounts of those who have been left with nothing under techniques of brainwashing, techniques of mind control, and techniques of threat and intimidation. Those who suffer at the hands of religious financial hucksters have lost their assets, their well being, and have suffered depression, guilt, shame, and anger. Some have resorted to worse measures, and have become victims of divorce, separation, and in some cases, suicides. And many of these churches and organizations claim 501 (c) 3 filing status for tax exemptions.

The right and the freedom of religion should by absolutely no means or by no measure of any form be removed under any circumstances. However, Those who abuse their financial responsibility as a leader who are responsible for the spiritual and moral care of those under their care, should be dealt with in a manner of justice as any other person in any other corporation, profit or non-profit. Increased financial accountability is something I no longer believe should be an option. Increased financial accountability is something I see as mandatory for churches that claim 501 (c) 3 filing status.

I also believe that it should be a serious offense, in any non-profit organization that is a 501 (c) 3 status religious organization and claims to be such, to threaten, intimidate, bully, or extort contributors, may it be members or non-members, to give or face any form of consequences, and I believe penalties should be stiffened for those who do so.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter whether anyone thinks they should get a free ride.

The reality is they do and they don't.

They do because they have members who won't ask the tough questions of them.
They don't because others shine a spotlight on their cons.

They hate the latter, but say it's Satan attacking, in order to give their members a reason to stay.

Whether it's Dave Pack, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn or TD Jakes, these con men will continue with their rubes believing in them and sending them money.

Douglas Becker said...

Of course they should get a free ride -- straight to the executioner.

Retired Prof said...

An interesting effect of the government's "hands-off" policy in respect to religion is that it can be viewed as an experiment in libertarian free-market theory.

The religion market is completely unregulated. The government can force drug manufacturers to disclose the side effects of using their products and outlaw promises of cures the drugs have not been shown to deliver. It is powerless, though, can tell preachers what they can and cannot say about the effects of following their prescriptions, nor hold them to their promises of a place of safety or life in the hereafter. Also, their operations are tax-free--another libertarian ideal.

In other words, religious institutions carry out their programs in what almost amounts to a libertarian utopia. Only rarely does the legal system call ministers and priests to account for their misdeeds unless they are caught blatantly misappropriating funds or sexually exploiting vulnerable members of their congregations. Churches regularly hide clergy members behind the wall of separation between church and state.

On the whole, that wall may be a good thing. Then again, maybe not. Sort of depends on whether your exploiter is hiding behind it or not.

In any case, the situation with religious charlatans does suggest this gloomy scenario: if drug, financial, industrial, and other markets enjoyed the same freedom the religious market does, none of us would be safe from exploitation.

Byker Bob said...

I wonder which ACOG leader will be the first to go down due to a large number of members filing a class action suit against him.

Getting together such a group would be significantly easier due to the internet than it was back in the days of classic WCG.

I believe this is one of the developments which we will witness in the coming years. I know several that I would wish it upon.........


DennisCDiehl said...

Those who are and who actually have had the experience with Dave Pack need to speak up loudly about the effects Dave's "Good News" has had on them.

Then it takes a gutsy reporter, of which there are precious few as they all fear for their jobs and do mostly what they are told, to bring this to light.

By the fruits you shall know them and all that.

In hindsite, the 60 Minutes piece along with other bad press and the receivership of WCG was the beginning of the end for them.

Byker Bob said...

It's been my experience that the really good investigative reporters have a balance of both fairness and truthfulness, while also possessing a flair for the subversive. Being able to fearlessly take on the rich and powerful, even at the peril of one's employment and personal safety, being principled to the point of caring more about truth than what people think of one, and probably actually thriving on where the chips may land would all be part of that equation.

I believe the reporter involved in writing the articles on RCG is probably coming from the perspective of being a booster of the local community, and simply profiling one of the local churches which seems to be financially viable. It appears that beliefs and activities are something upon which she is treading lightly. I doubt that you would find an incisive Woodward and Bernstein style reporter in a local community newspaper in a small Ohio town. Dave is probably relatively safe and secure doing what he is doing there. If he were to attract the attention of someone in the media of the closest big city, someone who worked for a "New Times" style publication, that is who we might expect to place him under a microscope.


Anonymous said...

I wonder which ACOG leader will be the first to go down due to a large number of members filing a class action suit against him.

A class action suit is unlikely. Much more likely is that the massive financial fraud will be what brings each leader down, as it did with Ron Weinland.

But even that won't be easy. Remember that, in the family-run cults like PCG and LCG, the people who are in the best position to document the ruling family's corruption are usually economically dependent on the corrupt ruling family. They realize that to "blow the whistle" on their cult's illegal activities would result in financial ruin for their own families. As a result, the corrupt patriarchs of these cults usually find themselves surrounded by corrupted ministers and members who maintain their own wealth and power by telling the leader whatever he wants to hear.

Many members recognize this corruption, but because of the example of HWA and GTA they assume it is a normal occurrence having something to do with Satan's attacks on the church, and as a result they don't leave the church in disgust. Instead, they assume that the leader is blameless and that it is the corrupt children and underlings who are exploiting the pure and undefiled leader. HWA was blameless but GTA was evil and deceived his father for many years, they say. And they say that Gerald Flurry really is That Prophet but is being kept in the dark by Wayne Turgeon and others. And that Rod Meredith is really God's anointed, but is being manipulated by his unconverted children. Because of this kind of reasoning, the cult leaders really do get a free ride, as it allows corruption to flourish without the leader having to take responsibility in the minds of his followers/victims.

Byker Bob said...

Thiel, King, and Malm's pronouncements usually bring a snicker, or mild wonderment, accompanied by shaking of one's head.

Pack is more menacing and dangerous, and demands quite a different reaction. For anyone who has ever let a "test fart" in an elevator, and then, horrified when it went terribly bad, listened to some amateur inquisitor/detective crudely, loudly, and blasphemously demand to know who was responsible, all the way up to the twenty-third floor, that might begin to approximate the normal human reaction to Dave .